Category Archives: Fright Fest

Fright Fest Winners!

It’s time to announce the winners of the various contests held during Fright Fest.  I wanted to thank everyone again for participating!

We’ll start off with the Thrills & Chills Contest!  The winning horror book & movie are:

Book: The Shining by Stephen King
Movie: Young Frankenstein

The winning thriller book & movie are:

Book: Watchers by Dean Koontz
Movie: Psycho

Next up is the Fright Fest Photo Contest!

The winning Halloween photo goes to:

Halloween Village, submitted by Trish from Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity.

The winning decorated pumpkin goes to:

DeathStar pumpkin submitted by Marie from Boston Bibliophile!

I will be contacting each of the winners (including those who won winning books/movies) so they can pick their prizes! Check out the great prize packs they’ll be choosing from:

Thriller Prize Pack:

The Associate by John Grisham
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
Right as Rain by George Pelecanos

Horror Prize Pack 1:

Veins by Lawrence Connolly
A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons
Blanket of White by Amy Grech
Far Dark Fields by Gary Braunbeck

Horror Prize Pack 2:

Cold in the Light by Charles Gramlich
The Condemned by David Jack Bell
Manhattan Grimoire by Sandy Deluca
Drood by Dan Simmons

Classic Horror Movie Prize Pack, Donated by Zumaya Publications:

Lugosi’s Dracula
Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein

B” Horror Movie Prize Pack, Donated by Zumaya Publications

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Zumaya Prize Pack, Donated by Zumaya Publications

The Demon Plague
Kindgom of Drams & Shadows
Begotten Son

Monster Prize Pack:

Monster Book of Zombies, edited by Stephen Jones
Vampire Stories from the American South
Haunted Heartland

Thanks one again for all who participated in Fright Fest!

It’s Voting Day! Vote in the Fright Fest Photo Contest!

Today is voting day here in the States, so I thought it would be the perfect day to kick of voting for the Fright Fest Photo Contest!  Following are the photos. Below you will find a form to cast your vote.  Please vote for one winner in each category (best pumpkin, best Halloween decorations).  Winners will be announced Sunday, November 7th.



Mickey Pumpkin

Mickey Pumpkin 2

Death Star Pumpkin

Death Star Pumpkin 2

Shocked Pumpkin

Shocked Pumpkin 2

Halloween Village

Halloween Village 2

Halloween Village 3

Halloween House

Halloween House 2

Halloween House 3

Halloween House 4

Good luck to all who entered!

Fright Fest Thriller Audio Book Giveway!

With Fright Fest wrapping up this evening, I though the best way to go out was with a bang with a really fantastic audio book giveaway!

I’m a huge fan of audio books, particularly thrillers on audio. There will be nine winners to this contest. Each winner will receive one of the following audio book prize packs:

  • The Way Home by George Pelecanos
  • The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
  • David Baldacci prize pack: Divine Justice, The Whole Truth, First Family
  • James Patterson prize pack: Run for Your Life, Cross Country, Swimsuit, The 8th Confession
  • The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Love Bites by Lynsay Sands
  • Boneman’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
  • The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer

To enter, please fill out the form below!  Good luck to all who enter!

Vote for your Favorite Thrills & Chills

The time has come!  Throughout the month of October,  I’ve been soliciting nominations for scariest thriller/horror books & movies.  Now it’s time to vote for your favorite!   The individuals that nominated the winning movies/books will win Halloween prize packs, including some classic horror movies as well as some of my favorite horror/thriller books.

To vote, please fill out the form below.  Voting will continue for one week and winners will be announced on Friday, November 5th.

A Zombie Love Story (Of Sorts)-Lavender Lines

Today’s guest post comes from Colleen of Lavender Lines.  Here’s a bit about Colleen:

I’m a book crazy writer who will need to live to be about 300 in order to read all the books currently on my to-read list.  When I’m not reading I am either writing, editing or cleaning up some kind of bird crap.

A zombie love story (of sorts)

Oh, original Night of the Living Dead, how I love thee. I love thee for scaring my pants off without making me want to puke my guts out. I love thee for turning a simple zombie movie into a commentary on group dynamics and power struggles. I love thee for introducing me to the greatness of ballet flats and flipped out hair.

I discovered you first not in a movie theatre, but in a crappy second hand book store in the fifty cent bin. You were a far cry from the Sweet Dreams books I had been addicted to and you opened up my eyes to the fact that not all books were about attracting boys. At least not living ones. You turned me on to horror and scary literature and while I quickly moved on to Stephen King, John Saul and Edgar Allan Poe, you, Night of the Living Dead, you were my first horror love.

I have had relationships with other zombie movies also, but none come close to your perfection. Black and white, grainy with the creepiest movie soundtrack ever, the slew of copy-cat movies don’t even come close to your quiet brilliance. As for zombie books, many adorn my shelves but you still hold a special place in my heart (and hopefully a box in my basement, since second hand copies of you are now unbelievable pricey).

Every year around this time, as the temperature cool and the air takes on the scent of apples and Halloween kisses, I turn to you for inspiration. Although now that I live in an old farmhouse on several acres of land and can often imagine zombies staggering up from the woods, we may not get our Halloween date this year. But that, in and of itself, is a testament to your greatness.

Oh yes, Night of the Living Dead, I love thee.

Review: The Ice Cradle by Mary Ann Winkowski & Maureen Foley


  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Original edition (October 5, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0307452468
  • Source: Publisher
  • In 1907 the Larchmont, a steamer ship, collided with a schooner off the coast of Block Island, near Providence, RI.  Nearly all of the 150 passengers went down with the ship or froze to death. The small island became the hub of the search and rescue mission.

    Present day-Anza is a book binder & single mother.  She’s not your typical mom, either.  From the time Anza was a young girl, she’s had the ability to see ghosts, earthbound spirits.  All her life she’s helped these spirits cross-over into the light.

    When Anza receives a call from the island’s Historical Society, she’s overjoyed!  Book binding doesn’t pay much and she could certainly use the extra money.  She’s asked to create a collection of historical papers from the century-old tragedy. She packs up her five-year-old son, Henry, and the head off to spend their spring vacation on the island.

    When she arrives, she can’t help but notice the high level of ghost activity on the island.  Many of those who died at sea have made the island their resting place.  The spirits aren’t happy either; plans to create a wind-farm on the island would disturb their final resting place.  Anza must work with the residents of the island, both living & dead, to help maintain the history of the island.

    The Ice Cradle: A Novel from the Ghost Files is the second book in Winkowski & Foley’s Ghost Files series; the first is The Book of Illumination. I didn’t have the opportunity to read the first book and I don’t think I lost anything; the authors did a pretty decent job of providing back story.

    For those of you who aren’t familiar, Mary Ann Winkowski is the consultant and inspiration behind Ghost Whisperers.  In addition, she has also worked with federal agencies as a paranormal investigator. 

    While overall, I enjoyed this book, I believe there could have been a bit more depth in the characters.  Anza learns that her son shares her powers; I wish the authors would have touched on this a bit more.  In addition, the spirits Anza meets clearly  have some history; I think a great deal could have been added to the story if we learned more about them and their past.

    That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book. It’s a short, quick read.  Not too scary at all, perfect for someone wanting to test out the horror/paranormal waters.  There is also a touch of romance, so fans of paranormal romance might enjoy this as well.

    Guest Review: Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

    Today’s guest post comes from the ever-amazing Nicole from Linus’s Blanket. I met two years ago at my first BEA (Book Expo America) and let me tell you…she’s one busy lady!  Nicole is a Manhattan based book blogger, born and raised in New York City.

    An active member of the book blogging community, Nicole created and hosts the weekly Blog Talk Radio show- That’s How I Blog! Each radio show is an in-depth discussion with bloggers who share a passion for books, and features candid conversations on favorite books and reading habits, bookish topics,and recent book and blogging trends and practices. A different book is discussed each week as part of a segment entitled Twenty Minute Book Club. She also hosts the Underground Literary Society with Amy Riley.

    I have always had a vivid imagination and been somewhat impressionable with respect to things I have read. As you might imagine that doesn’t necessarily make for the best set of circumstances when reading murder mysteries or tales of horror. I suffered the most from this as a tween/teenager. I was incredibly curious. I wanted to know the stories about ghouls, witches, murderers and the paranormal, but was scared to know about them at the same time. There was quite a bit of tug of war going on in my head, but my inquisitive nature usually won out, and so did the nightmares that came along with satisfied curiosity!

    Lois Duncan is one of the authors who always wrote books whose premises I found intriguing. Crystal balls, astrology, astral projection, ghosts, Ouija boards, haunted houses – her work covered it all. And of course, she always has a compelling and somewhat troubled female teenage protagonist in her novels- all the better for me to strongly identify with and be vividly placed in her ghost ridden stories. This is the author I hold responsible for gifting me with one of my most enduring fears, the fear of mirrors – which incidentally is eisoptropohobia. I am not afraid of mirrors in this general way, but certainly as a child and every now and again as an adult, I have feared that I would see my reflection wink or smile at me when I knew I was doing no such thing. Creepy!

    Anyway, I have lately been exploring the idea of conquering my fear of Lois Duncan novels. And though I was unable to take on my childhood nemesis, Stranger With My Face, I was able to read Gallows Hill. Duncan’s work engaged me as an adult almost as strongly and when I was a young adult reading her books. Thanks goodness there was a little less fear involved, and I was able toe enjoy the story and sleep at night. Exciting!

    Gallows Hill follows the story of 17-year-old Sarah, who has been uprooted from friends and family in her senior year, moving from California to a small town in Missouri after her fiercely independent mother mysteriously falls in love and moves to be with the man she loves. As you can imagine, Sarah is none to pleased with either her mother’s choice of beau or her decision to move them at such a crucial point in her high school experience. Shortly after moving to the small town, Sarah becomes involved with Eric a popular student who wants her to play the fortune teller at the school carnival. Sarah quickly discovers that she has a natural talent with crystal balls and starts to suspect that she herself might be a witch, which doesn’t exactly go over well in the town.

    Sarah was a little on the whiny side, and had that gullible quality that always makes you want to shake women in thrillers, but I loved the historical elements that Duncan introduces with links to the Salem Witch Trials and reincarnation. She does a great job of weaving these elements into the persona aspects of the story and providing information that piques your interest and sends you off to do research of your own. Duncan’s writing style has an easiness to it, but don’t let that fool you because there is a lot of depth to her characterizations, personal relationships and plots. This was an illuminating and enjoyable read and I enjoyed visiting with Duncan again after all these years. Now if I could just work up the courage to read Stranger With My Face!

    Guest Post: How to Carve a Mockingjay Pumpkin by Bookalicious Pam!

    When I started soliciting guest posts for Fright Fest, Pam from Bookalicious was one of the first to volunteer. With Halloween literally just around the corner, now is the perfect time to carve your pumpkin! So, Pam’s going to teach all of us how to carve Mockingjay pumpkin!

    How to cut the Mockingjay Pumpkin

    What you need:

    1: A pumpkin. Find one with a fairly flat area. This will make it easier to apply the template.

    2: A pumpkin carving kit. Make sure it contains a saw for fine details.

    3: A printout of the Mockingjay template

    4: A roll of transparent tape

    5: A pair of scissors

    6: A healthy dose of patience

    First, gut the pumpkin. You can make the carving easier by scraping the inside of the pumpkin to make the walls a bit thinner. Don’t make them too thin though.

    Next we are going to apply the template. It’s easiest when you don’t try to apply the entire printout to the pumpkin but instead cut it out. Leave a margin around it of about an inch. Then apply the template to the pumpkin with tape. Use a lot of it to make sure it’s not going to fall off halfway through the carving process.

    Once you’re confident the template is attached well you can start carving. It’s always best to sort of work your way from the inside to the outside when doing this. Therefore we’re going to punch holes for the eyes of the bird first. Trying to do this when you’re done carving may cause you to break the now fragile pumpkin wall. We have applied numbering to the template as a suggestion for the order in which you cut out the various pieces.

    With certain parts you may need to improvise a bit by cutting a bit wider at first and later on cut some more in order to prevent the narrow bits from breaking off. The single most important thing is something my dad always told me when I was little when sawing figures out of thin plywood: Let the SAW do the SAWING. Never ever apply pressure or try to rush things or you’ll break something off and you’ll have to start all over again with a new pumpkin.

    When you’re done carving make sure you take a picture of your work and send it to and it will be put on Bookalicious on Halloween.

    Have fun with the carving and Happy Halloween!

    Why I Hate Horror But Love Halloween, a Guest Post by Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading

    So far, all the Fright Fest guest posts have been from people who love the thriller/horror genres.  This post is different. Today’s guest poster is Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading. As you will see in her post, she hates horror, detests being scared.  But not to worry; there is hope!

    Why I Hate Horror But Love Halloween

    Everyone likes to get a little scared, right? Wrong. I hate it. I have hated horror since fifth grade slumber parties when Freddy Krueger tried to attack me in my dreams. I would “watch” Nightmare on Elm Street by focusing anywhere by the screen. Instead, I would stare at a spot just above the television-fooling all my best friends. I would shudder when they shuddered. Scream when they screamed. It was fool proof until the inevitable happened. Occasionally my eyes, filled with curiosity, would drift down the screen. Then there he would be, Freddy in all his glory: slimy, disfigured, clawed. My eyes would instantly slam shut with nightmares right around the corner.

    My problem with horror has continued for the rest of my life. The Blair Witch Project made me think ghosts were real and in the woods. This was especially great because my parents live in the woods, the movie came out in the summer, and mis padres wouldn’t turn the air on. Every time the wind blew it was a reminder of a ghost coming to attack. And don’t even get me started about what Stephen King did to clowns and creepy parks.

    Nothing about horror appeals to me. Nothing. Nothing that is except Halloween. I love Halloween not because it is scary. I love it because once you remove all the scary elements from the holiday Halloween allows you to be, to live as someone else. Halloween is a real life way to try on something new. To be something else. Reading, of course, does this for me the rest of the year, but I don’t usually read books in full costume and get to speak in accents. Halloween brings out the actress in me. Instead of scaring my friends, I make them admire my Brittney Spears imitation. Or at least I pretend they are impressed.

    Being someone else might be scary, but for me it is liberating. I want to live lots of lives, but unfortunately I get just the one. I don’t want to be scared, but I do want to be adventurous. I do want to try something new. Halloween is the only holiday where I still get to play the part, and I love every minute of it.

    One problem recently occurred to me though: Am I avoiding a lot of the fun life has to offer by doing nothing scary? Am I living life fully if I never get scared just for fun? I plan to change that this Halloween, with your help of course. As part of my twelve step rehabilitation into all things scary, this Halloween I am going to attempt to go back into the world of horror. I will read one horror book the week of Halloween. The only problem is I don’t know what to read. Got any suggestions?

    To further aid my rehab program I will also go to one haunted house. Yes, I will pay people money to scare me in my own bed while I read, and I will also spend some cold cash to have strangers chase/scream/jump at me in the woods. Sounds horrible, right? Well what would good Halloween be, the best holiday of the year, without trying something new?

    Guest Post: Can Handwriting Reveal a Serial Killer?

    There’s nothing scarier that a real-life monster, a serial killer.  Today’s guest post comes from Sheila Lowe, a forensic handwriting expert with more forty years of experience in the field. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and is the author of several published books including Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, as well as Sheila Lowe’s Handwriting Analyzer software. Her first mystery novel, Poison Pen, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and introduces forensic handwriting expert, Claudia Rose, who uses her handwriting analysis skills to help solve crimes. Today Sheila is going to examine the handwriting of serial killers and detail just what their handwriting says about them.

    Can Handwriting Reveal a Serial Killer?

    He was handsome, charismatic, captivating. He was convicted of the rape and murder of ten women in Florida. He’d probably raped at least fifty.

    As with other violent crimes, serial murder is on the increase. Between 1900-1950, an average of 1.2 cases a year were recorded. In 1960 there were 12 cases. By the 1980s this offense had jumped to an average of two cases a month. Since 1977 more than two hundred serial killers have been convicted, with well over a thousand victims between them. More than 80% of all serial murders have occurred in less than 30 years.

    Like others of his ilk, serial murderer Robert Joseph Long managed to elude capture over a lengthy period–how? Because he was able to look and act pretty much like the average guy. He knew how to fit into society and appear like the rest of us. But his handwriting held clues that pointed to pathological behavior.

    Most people agree that the way a person walks says a lot about him. Someone who swaggers into a room, for example, has a very different personality from one who diffidently creeps along, hugging the wall. Researchers tell us that facial expressions are interpreted the same way the world over, and one’s tone of voice indicates his mood. Similarly, handwriting is a projective behavior akin to body language, tone of voice, and facial expression, and it reveals a important information about motivation and personality, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Having said that, let me be very clear that there is no such thing as a “criminal handwriting.” In an attempt to identify patterns of similarity in the handwritings of serial killers, I examined the handwritings of a number of notorious murderers. What I discovered was, there was no direct “this-means-that” correlation of a personality trait to a handwriting characteristic; it was far more subtle than that.

    It would have been handy if we could neatly package up a syndrome of traits and instantly identify a serial killer or any other type of criminal, but what actually manifests in handwriting are red flags for certain types of pathological behavior, or the potential for it. Because what we see written on a sheet of paper is like a photograph of the past, the handwriting professional can make some extrapolations, but cannot absolutely predict future behavior.

    With the exception of Wesley Allan Dodd, the handwritings available for my examination were written after incarceration, when these men and women were forced to toe the mark and curb their deadly appetites. The restraint they had to practice–the need to follow strict prison rules–had an effect on their handwriting, making it appear far more rigid and controlled than in the time leading up to a kill, when their murderous rage was building to a breaking point.

    Robert Joseph Long, mentioned in the introduction to this article, has been described as “shockingly brutal.” He beat, raped, and strangled his victims. Long’s handwriting is rigid to an extreme, seen in the tight, angular forms, which indicates a lack of emotional release. Positive emotional release would be seen in a balance of rounded and angular forms. Note the extremely long t-crosses. This straight horizontal movement, combined with the rigidity, reveals his need to dominate and control others.


    Wesley Allan Dodd, executed at his own request by hanging in 1993, kept a diary during the time he was killing little boys. His handwriting during the time leading up to a killing is far more “released” (though not in a positive way) and expansive than the second sample, written after he was convicted. You don’t have to be a handwriting expert to see the difference in the two samples. The second one is reminiscent of Bob Long’s, highly controlled and rigid, while the first is out of control.



    Serial murder is not confined to male perpetrators. Aileen Wuornos, the subject of the movie, Monster, was executed in 2002 for the deaths of seven men. Christine Slaughter Falling (talk about an appropriate name!), whose handwriting appears below, is a very different personality type, but just as deadly. She was accused of killing at least six infants and toddlers she babysat, and was convicted of three counts of murder in 1982, receiving a life sentence that made her eligible for parole in 25 years. In an interview for CNN in 1992, Falling was asked what she would do if released. Her answer: she would like to babysit again, because, “I love kids to death.” She was denied parole in 2006.

    Her handwriting sample, written after 10 years of incarceration, is the polar opposite of Dodd’s and Long’s. The extreme roundedness of the writing and the large size, suggest an egocentric person who was constantly seeking love and approval (though clearly, not in healthy ways). The letters “M” on “Me” and “R” on “really” are made in such a way that they look like an X. Such forms are often made by people with a death consciousness, sometimes by one who has experienced a death close to them, or perhaps have received a serious diagnosis of physical illness. In Falling’s case, perhaps her responsibility for the deaths of several young children was on her mind–though not her conscience. This handwriting specimen wasn’t made by someone with a conscience.

    Another fairly rare characteristic in Falling’s handwriting is seen in some of the upper loops, such as the “l” on “letter,” which are made in the shape of a candle flame. The flame-shaped upper loop is often seen in one who has sustained a blow to the head. It’s known that when Christine was 8 years old, her mother (who was a 16 year-old-prostitute when Christine was born), hit her in the head with a two-by-four, after which she began having seizures. These flame-shaped loops are often created by those who tend to see the world quite differently than most of us do.

    Most, if not all, serial killers came from childhoods where they were abused and/or neglected. Yet, comparatively few abused children grow up to be killers or engage in other types of crime. Many factors, both nature and nurture come into play. Genetics, environment, and the individual’s personal responses to a variety of experiences blend together to determine the outcome.

    Handwriting, like personality, is made up of thousands of variables. In order to make any kind of objective assessment, it is important to study the whole picture, not just bits and pieces. The characteristics described above were viewed within the context of larger samples of writing, and are intended only as an teaser to what kinds of information is revealed. Handwriting cannot tell everything about the writer, but it can open a window into the mind, both of the criminal and the “normal” person. Some psychologists find it helps them to get a rapid grasp on what makes a person tick–whether the writer is motivated by the need for power, the need for security, the need to be loved, etc. Especially when used in conjunction with other personality assessment instruments, handwriting analysis can be an important tool for understanding the human psyche.

    (Originally published on The Graveyard Shift.  Republished at the permission of the author.)